The Chevy Silverado, one of the top-selling pickup trucks in the US, is going electric. General Motors CEO Mary Barra unveiled Chevy’s answer to the Ford F-150 Lightning during a virtual presentation at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. GM hopes that the plug-in pickup’s familiar nameplate will help it lure Silverado owners and other truck fans to the world of zero tailpipe emissions.
The Silverado EV is the second electric truck for GM, succeeding the GMC Hummer EV, which went into production last year. But when it comes out in late 2023, the electric Silverado will be one of the flagship vehicles in the company’s much larger $35 billion push into electric vehicles, as well as the first electric truck for the automaker’s Chevy brand.
At launch, the Silverado EV will be available in two configurations: an RST First Edition and a fleet-oriented Work Truck (WT) model. Both models will get more than 400 miles of range on a full charge (though that number still needs to be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency).
The base model work truck will start at $39,900, while the fully loaded RST First Edition, named because it will be first off the assembly line in spring 2023, will sell for the suggested price of $105,000. Chevy says that after production ramps up, various versions of the truck will be available for $50,000–$80,000. The automaker is already taking reservations.
Like most electric vehicles, the electric Silverado will be incredibly quick, able to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. That’s quicker than the RWD single-motor Cybertruck and about on par with the Ford F-150 Lightning and the tri-motor Cybertruck. (Tesla says the quad-motor truck will be able to hit 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.) The RST version sounds like it could easily knock the wind out of you, with 485kW of total power (664 horsepower) and 780 pound-feet of torque while in the Silverado’s Wide Open Watts Mode.
The RST First Edition of the truck will also feature a host of additional features, including:
- Four-wheel steering
- Automatic Adaptive Air Suspension, enabling the vehicle to be raised or lowered 2 inches
- Multi-Flex Midgate that expands the truck’s cargo capability while maintaining seating for a rear row passenger
- Available Multi-Flex Tailgate with power release
- 17-inch LCD infotainment screen paired with a neighboring 11-inch-diagonal reconfigurable driver instrument display and a multi-color driver head-up display with a field of view over 14 inches
- Trailering-capable Super Cruise, GM’s hands-free driver assistance technology, allowing drivers to travel hands-free on more than 200,000 miles of compatible roads across the US and Canada
That all sounds fun, but all this power is only so good as long as you can easily charge the electric Silverado back up. Charging is still a sore spot for most EVs, and like most non-Tesla automakers, GM doesn’t own its own network, which means that Silverado owners, when they’re not charging at home, will need to rely on a patchwork of third-party EV charging companies for most of their needs.
Both versions of the truck can take DC fast charging speeds of up to 350kW, which would add an estimated 100 miles for every 10 minutes of charging. Of course, chargers with that kind of power are few and far between, and most owners will likely have to do with 150kW chargers or less.
The Silverado bests the F-150 Lightning when it comes to onboard power, putting out an incredible 10.2kW for all sorts of charging needs, including powering an entire home or charging another electric vehicle. By contrast, the base trims of the F-150 Lightning can put out 2.4kW of onboard power, and the more expensive Lariat and Platinum trims offer a total of 9.6kW of onboard power. (Base model Lightning buyers can get up to 9.6kW of on-board power, but it costs extra.)
One of the coolest features is the Multi-Flex Tailgate. On its own, the truck bed is 5 feet 11 inches long, but that can extend to 9 feet when opening the midgate and then to 10 feet 10 inches when extending the Multi-Flex Tailgate. The result is a bunch of different configurations to fit different cargo needs.
And yes, there is a frunk. But while Ford had a lot of fun with the branding of its “Mega Power Frunk,” Chevy opted for the more perfunctory “eTrunk,” which sounds more like something a pachyderm would be packing than anything you’d find in your plug-in pickup.
When it eventually hits dealerships, it will find a number of electric trucks already on the market, including the Rivian R1T, Ford F-150 Lightning, and likely the Tesla Cybertruck. Most notably, the Silverado’s production will lag behind the F-150 Lightning, which is expected to go into production in spring 2022.
The Silverado EV will be built on GM’s Ultium battery pack and electric drivetrain that is also being used to power the Hummer truck and SUV, the Cadillac Lyriq and Celestiq, and other upcoming EVs. (The Silverado will use a 24-module Ultium battery pack, similar to the Hummer EV. ) GM has already made some big promises around its Ultium generation of electric vehicles, even while it struggles with its first-generation thanks to a massive recall of the Bolt EV.
It will be built at Factory Zero, GM’s EV plant in Detroit, alongside both Hummer EVs and the Cruise Origin, the automaker’s purpose-built autonomous shuttle. GM is also planning to build two battery factories in the US as it continues to vertically integrate new elements of the manufacturing process.
Pickup trucks are the biggest sellers in the US. And despite improvements in fuel economy, pickup trucks still consume the most gas and have the most carbon emissions. So, the electrification of the pickup truck market could have a significant impact on the environment.
Right now, it’s anyone’s game. GM only delivered one Hummer EV truck before the end of 2021. Rivian’s rollout has been slowed by supply chain problems. Ford has high hopes for the F-150 Lighting, recently doubling its expected production to 150,000 by mid-2023.
It will be interesting to see what Ford does with its head start over GM, given the intense rivalry between the two companies in the truck space. “They are huge sellers and profit-generators for their parent companies,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, in an email. “Each has an extremely loyal buyer base. Now they come to market with EV versions. Ford may have a leg up since it is coming to market first. We’ll see.”
Ford likes to brag that its EVs are not just converting loyal customers to plug-in vehicles but also attracting new customers who have never owned a Ford. It’s now GM’s challenge to do the same with the Silverado EV.